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Tour of California stage to start, finish in downtown Santa Rosa

The first stage of the Tour of California in May will start and finish in downtown Santa Rosa, the first glimpse of the route of eight-day cycling event that has become the nation's most prestigious road race.

"We are moving forward with the festival and finish line as in previous years being downtown," Raissa de la Rosa, a city of Santa Rosa economic development specialist and organizer of the event locally, said Monday.

This year, Santa Rosa was skipped as a host city for the first time in the race's six-year history, but with the promise that Santa Rosa in 2012 would host the high-profile first stage, which includes a week-long festival and pre-race events.

Amgen Tour Of California, Stage 8

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There had been was some consideration to moving the race route and its accompanying festival outside of the downtown area to a park, such as A Place to Play in West Santa Rosa, to avoid the disruption of closing streets and taxing available parking.

The tour, which draws the top international teams and riders, will start in Santa Rosa on May 13, a Sunday, and ends May 20.

The other cities that will be stops in the race will be disclosed within the next few weeks and the precise stage routes in April, said Chuck Hodge, of Medalist Sports in Atlanta, Ga., who is laying out the course.

The Tour of California is owned by AEG Sports of Los Angeles and again is being sponsored by Amgen, a biotech company.

Hodge did not confirm the Santa Rosa race would begin and finish downtown.

Sonoma County is unusual in that it has steep and winding roads into the hills as well as flat and rolling terrain, vineyards, dairies and the ocean, all of which will all be thrown into mix for a race that will provide the necessary competitive difficulty but also show off California, Hodge said.

"That is the nice thing about Sonoma County, there is so much variety from the competition side and from what we want to capture on the camera side," Hodge said. "It's an embarrassment of riches."


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